Be Melodramatic: Episodes 9-16 (Series review)
You guyssss, it’s over! What are we to do? Letting go of dramas is never easy, but it’s proving to be especially hard with Be Melodramatic. Mainly because I got too comfortable hanging out with our girls and their various friends and family, and I forgot that (duh) it had to end. But then, the slice-of-life genre is just that, a mere sliver of these characters’ lives, so I guess there is no true ending. It simply stops where it needs to be stopped, where the writer wants to leave us off.
All this time, our quirky writer Jin-joo has worked hard on her debut drama “It Gets Better When You Turn Thirty.” This being the actual story of her life (and the story we’ve been watching), it’s been tough for her to power through to the ending, too. She’s trying to figure out the best way to handle work, friendship, and love in fiction when she hasn’t quite figured it out in reality. As we see in this last half of the drama, it’s the odd combination of naivety and experience that make her thirties so great.
From where we left off in the last review, the three heroines are laser-focused on their careers. For Eun-jung, our resident documentary director, she’s more stressed over the “ghost” of her late boyfriend Hong Dae. After seeing footage of herself talking to no one, she acknowledges the fact that she’s enduring the ghost she’s created in order to remember him. Only now, she sees this entity as a reminder that she misses him rather than the comfort he was before.
So Eun-jung walks over to her brother and girlfriends and admits, “I’m having a hard time. Please hug me.” She doesn’t have to tell them twice — in fact, they’d been waiting for her to say those words for a long time. This was a big moment for her, and for the group as a whole. Jin-joo had been stressing over her drama (due to her ex Hwan-dong snatching her desired cast and crew) and Han-joo had been stressing over her rebelling son In-gook, but that all disappeared when they heard that their best friend was hurting.
Meanwhile, Han-joo’s hoobae Jae-hoon continues riding the roller coaster of emotions with his girlfriend Ha-yoon. It’s obvious that they’re exhausted holding their relationship together, but neither are willing to leave it. There’s one scene where they try to act as a couple again, shopping for groceries and cooking a meal, and it feels so… empty. Needless to say, it was painful to watch. Ha-yoon does move out of their apartment the morning after, suggesting a break-up, only to return later on as if nothing had happened. The roller coaster goes on.
On a separate roller coaster, on the other side of this metaphorical theme park, we have the celebrity/manager couple So-min and Min-joon. Min-joon accepts a job at another company, and So-min is so lost without him that it hinders her work. She gets reprimanded on set of a commercial for, according to the red-faced director KIM SANG-SOO (Sohn Seok-gu), being unable to act through her sadness. Thankfully, Eun-jung, who’s still filming So-min for a documentary, puts the director in his place.
Eun-jung then convinces So-min to stop overthinking and go after her man. So-min rushes over to Min-joon’s place and confesses for the both of them, knowing he likes her too. She almost bails from their intense moment, realizing she’s not wearing makeup, but he pulls her back and calls her pretty. They kiss and I screech like a chimpanzee. They’re so stinkin’ cute.
Diving back into drama business, the production company discovers similarities between Jin-joo’s script and her former boss Writer Jung’s script. This is because Jin-joo and Hwan-dong (the director of Jung’s drama) both incorporated their relationship into their writing.
Jin-joo and Hwan-dong keep it totally professional, with Hwan-dong even encouraging Jin-joo to continue writing without editing anything out. Still, this whole ordeal starts a crazy mess of rumors about Jin-joo, the main one being she seduced her director Beom-soo into greenlighting her drama. She avoids Beom-soo for the next few days, which is hard on him since he’s just realized he likes her.
Upon her brother’s request, Eun-jung visits a psychologist to discuss her grief. And I’ve gotta say, I appreciate this so much. It seems like mental illness and therapy is appearing in a lot more kdramas nowadays. Sometime later, Eun-jung has a terrible nightmare where Hong Dae’s ghost tries to strangle her, angry that she’s trying to move on from him.
When she wakes up, she sees the ghost again and follows it down the street until she runs into a very drunk man. This man gets rough with her, so another man steps in and comes to her rescue — the commercial director. While Eun-jung recognizes him immediately, it takes Director Kim a second to realize she’s the “psycho” who snapped at him. Derp.
Tired of Jin-joo’s silence, Beom-soo confesses and tries to kiss her. But she steps back, literally and figuratively, needing time to think their relationship out — with her friends, of course. She thinks of all the reasons she likes him, saying, “He’s fun to be around. I don’t get mad when he does annoying things. He can be pathetic but cute… I get worried when I can’t see him… Aish, why are there so many reasons?”
Jin-joo remains ambivalent about Beom-soo until Hwan-dong asks her out to dinner, implying that he wants to get back together. Thinking of Beom-soo, she tells Hwan-dong that it’s best for them to leave their past behind and look to the future. Hwan-dong understands, calling her cool. And he’s right — our girl is cool. She leaves the restaurant to find Beom-soo and give him the kiss he’s been waiting for.
The episode that follows (episode 13) is probably my favorite. Jin-joo heads over to her new work studio, and she’s so giddy in love that she lets out a fart. She laughs at herself until she realizes that Beom-soo is right behind her. And like the drama queen she is, she drops to the floor in an over-the-top show of embarrassment.
Jin-joo brings this story home to her friends, and I kid you not — this discussion about farting goes on for the entire episode. I thought it was ridiculous, but then the show went on to even make that poignant. Jin-joo’s mom braves farting in front of her hubby for the first time ever, and he gets scared for her health, having had a friend who lost his wife to cancer. This show, y’all. This show.
Okay, so after Jin-joo erases her fart from Beom-soo’s memory, Beom-soo is thrown into some stress at the office. He hurts his wrist from arm-wrestling Hwan-dong (who wanted to “beat [him] at something”), and he gets a major headache from Han-joo and the marketing team urging him to include an irrelevant massage chair PPL. Jae-hoon calms him down by handing him fancy bottled water. Wow, PPL inception.
In the middle of all this, Jae-hoon starts spending more time with Han-joo, needing someone to talk to about his failing relationship. Naturally, him spending time with Han-joo just makes girlfriend Ha-yoon suspicious.
Eun-jung’s psychologist suggests she take a day off and do some volunteer work at the orphanage she donated her money to. She does just that, surprised to run into Director Kim yet again. It turns out that Director Kim donates all of his earnings to the orphanage and spends his time there for fun. They get to talking, starting the weirdest yet sweetest friendship.
The director is simultaneously chill and outspoken, just like Eun-jung, and it both intrigues and annoys her. She goes home, and we see that she’s still bothered by Hong Dae’s ghost. Not by the ghost itself, but by the fact that she’s using the ghost because she misses him. She suddenly recalls an app that Hong Dae used, online scrapbooking all their times together, and recharges his phone to look through it.
In it, Hong Dae recorded everything from the time he fell for her to the time he got sick. She reads his desires for her to remember only one thing (that she kissed him first) and to let him remember the rest. “I trust you,” he wrote. “I trust you, but… Ah, I can’t trust you. Please, for me, protect yourself.” She holds the phone to her chest and smiles through her tears, promising that she will.
Elsewhere, Han-joo advises Jae-hoon to gather the courage to look past his resentment towards Ha-yoon. Taking her advice to heart, Jae-hoon comes home to a waiting Ha-yoon and embraces her.
The morning after, Jae-hoon wakes up to Ha-yoon packing. This time, she insists, it’s for good. She simply wanted one last embrace from him before leaving their relationship. He’s confused and frustrated, unable to say much as she sincerely apologizes and walks out the door one last time.
Jae-hoon catches Han-joo going into a restaurant with her jerk of an ex-husband Seung-hyo. Jae-hoon follows them and listens in as Seung-hyo explains that he wants to get their family back together. He tells her that he’s doing this because he’s sick, making a big deal out of it, only to reveal that it’s rhinitis. Han-joo tries to slap him multiple times, but he dodges every blow. Finally, Jae-hoon comes in and punches him to the ground, immediately apologizing and saying that it’s his job to resolve whatever his sunbae couldn’t.
Han-joo goes home to tell her friends about her ex, but they have to whisper since little In-gook is sleeping in the next room. They have a hilariously heated discussion until Han-joo reveals that she has no intention whatsoever of getting back with her ex. In fact, she says with a smile, she’s sort of dating someone.
They assume that she’s talking about Jae-hoon, but it’s actually a guy she met at a club and exchanged numbers with. What?! Why haven’t we seen more of this mystery guy?! I was rooting for the Han-joo/Jae-hoon ship, but I guess I can’t be too mad. Han-joo’s friendship with Jae-hoon really was nothing but a friendship, and a damn good one at that.
It’s almost time for Jin-joo’s drama to start filming, so she explains all of her characters’ endings to Beom-soo, at the same time, explaining all of our characters’ endings to us. Beom-soo isn’t crazy about Jin-joo’s preference to an open ending, but he does agree that hers is meaningful. How right he is, too. I’ve said this before, but I just love that every character has their own important story.
While this is where Jin-joo’s drama ends, it doesn’t end for us. We skip to one year later, and we learn that “It Gets Better When You Turn Thirty” only received 1 percent ratings. (OMG, the meta!) Jin-joo doesn’t let that bring her down, though, as she’s signed on for two more dramas with Beom-soo. Jumping to Han-joo, we learn that she’s still going steady with her boyfriend and Jae-hoon is adorably supportive. Later, Jae-hoon actually runs into Ha-yoon and the two (while a bit awkward) are glad to see each other.
Finally, jumping to Eun-jung, we learn that she’s leaving for Europe, having been inspired by Director Kim to film another documentary. She sees Hong Dae again, smiling, and she says her final goodbyes by promising to meet him when her time comes. She comes back to the apartment, which like the end of every typical sitcom, is nearly empty. Everyone’s ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives, but they share one last night in their home eating ramen. And, voila, we’ve come full circle.
I don’t know how many times I can say I freaking loved this show. I loved seeing it pick up on the littlest things, like the different ways people stress over weight, exhaustion, or yeah, even flatulence. I loved that the majority of the soundtrack was made up of songs that the characters had written or sung. I loved our girls, I loved our guys — our sisters and brothers and parents and kids. And I loved Jin-joo and Beom-soo showing us the process of how a drama like this is actually brought to life.
The drama was (excuse the pun) very mellow, but the unique humor gave it a spark that kept it feeling alive. Though I wish we’d gotten more time with certain characters, I think the amount of screentime and character development was pretty evenly distributed. With that, I’m satisfied enough to say goodbye. So to close, I have to commend the lovely quotes that were reiterated in every episode’s ending credits. I haven’t reached my thirties yet, and it’s something I’m always thinking (ahem, worrying) about, so reading those quotes felt like the nudges of encouragement I didn’t know I needed. I’ll be sure to remember Jin-joo’s advice of “living deliciously” the next time I eat ramen.
- Premiere Watch: Let Me Hear Your Song, Welcome 2 Life, Be Melodramatic
- Working moms and casting switches in Melo Suits Me
- New stills of Gong Myung, Chun Woo-hee for JTBC’s Melo Suits Me
- Broken hearts and fiery tempers in JTBC’s Melo Suits Me
- Night-to-day transformation in Melo Suits Me
- The drama-watching girlfriends of JTBC’s Melo Suits Me
- Chun Woo-hee, Jeon Yeo-bin, Han Ji-eun to be BFF’s for JTBC’s Melo Suits Me